Grenfell Tower and the Dignity Debate.

It is almost two weeks since the Grenfell Tower tragedy occurred, a horrific incident that shocked the nation and dominated the news headlines. But ever since this disaster happened, a weird kind of narrative has begun to rear its ugly head. The narrative of ‘respectability politics.’

Some people started commenting on the behaviour of the survivors and the families of those affected, saying that they were not showing enough ‘dignity’. Oh, where do I begin with this…

This is not a time for people to engage in the social and political football of respectability politics. These people are angry, in shock and devastated beyond belief. They have lost their families (entire generations in some cases), their friends, neighbours, everything that they worked for, everything they own including their identities because their passports or ID were destroyed in the blaze. I heard people say that the people affected should ‘think logically’. I have never heard such nonsense in my life. All these people judging the survivors and demanding that they show dignity and be rational while they watch sitting on their sofas is downright insulting. 

Not everything in life requires a dignified response

People use the word ‘dignity’ as a way to patronise and guilt-trip others so that they tone down their reaction, as if they are less worthy of notice if they shout. Dignity is a good thing in certain circumstances, but who are these armchair commentators to tell those who have lost loved ones and everything they know and care about how to exercise self-control? 

The desire to be dignified causes people to react in different ways. It often hinders their natural response because they feel like they have to show that they calm and collected, almost professional. There seems to be a shift over recent years where you cannot show anger about something (even when that reaction is more than justified) as it demonstrates a lack of self-control. Since when did we become robots? 

Furthermore, people from certain backgrounds or demographics have to be careful as anger might get them killed- look at what happened to Eric Garner or Philando Castile. 

I’m tired of the opinion that, in order to be heard or taken seriously, you have to look and behave a certain way. Sometimes, people approach situations with dignity and respect and still get patronised and ignored in equal measure. When the community around Grenfell Tower marched down to Kensington Town Hall the Friday after the fire, some commentators muttered disapprovingly at their actions. Those people need their heads checked to see where their empathy disappeared to (up their backsides, maybe?).

Imagine seeing your whole life reduced to a smoking shell. All your family and friends gone. All you own are the clothes on your back. You look at what used to be your home and are haunted by the events that preceded it. You’re suffering from ‘survivor’s guilt’, traumatised and weary and wanting to burst into tears at any moment but you can’t because you need to keep hoping that all is not lost. And in the aftermath, not one council member came to visit or provide assistance until much, much later. Everything is being done through voluntary and community outlets, not the actual council that hoovers up their council tax every month without fail. Communication is key. Talk to those directly affected face-to-face, not via a carefully-worded statement on BBC News. Don’t do what Theresa May did. 


Yes, they could have been sorting accommodation- but then these are the same people who still have not put together a list of residents who lived in Grenfell Tower. Nearly a fortnight after the fire and the official word is that 79 people died- but there is still no definitive residents list. Despite being told there are no more survivors, people are still desperately hoping to find their loved ones alive. But it is highly unlikely and what’s worse, it is like they never existed. Ironically, they are given no dignity in death because the powers that be are not acknowledging their existence. But some armchair commentators will continue to carry on telling people how to grieve and how to behave. It needs to stop. 

Pepsi Lost Their Fizz.

The internet has gone bananas about the new Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner...and not in a good way. Naturally, I have to throw in my two cents:

First of all, why is this advert nearly three minutes long? Unless it’s a charity appeal, there’s no need for any advert to have that duration.

Secondly, what was the point? I watched it thrice and still didn’t get it. I thought it was a parody. It was like a stylised, ultra glossy version of an American protest, with extra layers of FA-SHUN added by bringing Ms Jenner to the mix. 


What were Pepsi thinking? I wasted my time watching something that felt like a very colourful Gap ad or a music video than a pointed illustration of modern American life.

The advert was utterly pointless. Even if they were attempting to make a point (and I still don’t know what that was), this was probably the dumbest way to do it. Was there no person of colour at Pepsi HQ (or any person, in fact) who could have said, ‘Are you sure this is a good idea?’ 


Who decided that little ‘Wonder Woman’ bit where Jenner whipped off her wig was a slice of genius? It only succeeded in making me laugh. The fist bump between her and the black guy dancing throughout was cringeworthy, as was the mini-flirting with the violinist who cannot sip properly from a can of Pepsi. But let’s be honest, the entire ad was two minutes and forty-six seconds of cringe and I’m still trying to figure out WHAT THE FRIGGING POINT OF IT WAS. 


So if peaceful protestors of the past such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had a Pepsi on their person, maybe the powers-that-be would have been more sympathetic to their plight? If Black Lives Matter had a Pepsi multipack, things might have been less problematic? If only real life was as simple as handing a fizzy drink to a member of the riot police, eh? Why did Pepsi think they could crowbar themselves into this issue and turn it into something palatable, edgy and trendy (ugh)? It’s as bad as that time Sky Sports turned their Super Sunday credits into WAG Central: an unrecognisable football crowd full of gorgeous model-esque women, suited blokes and happy families all waving their hands to ‘Loving Each Day’ by Ronan Keating, with not a single regular-looking football fan in sight. 

Pepsi released an apology which only apologised to Kendall Jenner rather than those who complained about the ad- why I do not know. Ms Jenner is twenty years old. She is not a child. She can make her own decisions regarding which projects she takes on and those she does not, so why they aimed their apology at her and her alone is weird. 

Seriously Pepsi, stick to what you’re good at. In fact, all big brands should probably do so unless they’re absolutely sure they have got their message right. I’m not looking to you to make a statement on the world today- I want you to carry on making mindless and insanely expensive adverts that I can roll my eyes at and not expect anything other than you selling your cold beverage to me through heavy-handed product placement. Trivialising the protests of recent times into happy vignettes of aesthetically-pleasing young people in technicolor (I saw no diversity in terms of age in that crowd at all) walking through sun-drenched streets clutching cans of your drink is not the one.


© isanynamefree 2017

Heading For The Brexit.

Fresh from watching Alastair Campbell and Nigel Farage squabbling on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday morning (with Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid grabbing the metaphorical popcorn), Britain’s European Ambassador delivered a letter yesterday lunchtime to trigger the start of our departure from the European Union. 

Yes unfortunately, the time has come for Brexit and for those of us who voted to remain, there’s not a lot we can do about it. We have to endure the incredibly smug faces of Farage, David Davis and the like blabbing haughtily about how Brexit will be A Good Thing (even though they don’t have a clue what’s going to happen next). 


As I wrote after the referendum was done and dusted, many Brexiteers seem to think that Britain still has an empire and we can lord it over our foreign neighbours. They think that we can swan into negotiations, demand what we want and not face any consequences for what we have voted for. They think that other member states of the EU such as Germany and France will not (for want of a better word) punish us for leaving. What a load of bollocks. 
The EU will be driving a hard bargain and will make life very difficult for us when the   negotiations begin. And when those talks are in the hands of the likes of our foreign secretary Boris Johnson, you’d be right for thinking that this could turn into an almighty shitfest. 


I keep hearing the phrase ‘global Britain’ being used over the past few days. What does that even mean? It’s just another bullshit soundbite- an empty phrase meant to have the public nodding their heads furiously in agreement even if they are as baffled as I am. If they mean ‘global’ as in selling our companies and industries off to China, Saudi Arabia and America, leaving us with no industries to truly call British then yes, they might be right. 

In (Self Imposed) Exile.

Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. The holy trinity of social media. I scrolled through them everyday looking at updates, funny gifs and random shit because let’s be honest, that what we all love: the lack of thought that goes into reading these things. It was a bit of escapism.

I was going to give up Twitter for Lent because over the past few months, it appears that the lunatics have taken over the asylum. Even though I try to stay away from all the nonsense swirling around the Twittersphere (especially since Brexit and Trump becoming President), it feels like it has been hijacked by the alt-right and leftists slating and baiting each other online.


It is full of trolls and jackasses who need little invitation to act that way. There have been times where a picture of a beautiful black woman is posted with a caption along the lines of, ‘she’s too dark’ next to it. It’s usually followed up by the tweeter gloating about how much attention he got from those who took the bait and snapped. It’s unbelievable and mind-numbingly stupid. I started muting and blocking people who were getting on my nerves or receiving too much attention for their trolling. And still I scrolled through my timeline everyday, reading about various events (or non-events) in people’s lives, various arguments unfolding before my eyes, constantly refreshing the page to see if anything new came up even though the last update was five seconds ago. It got to the point where it became exhausting to look at yet I couldn’t turn away, almost like I was rubber-necking an accident. Also, I realised the amount of time I spent reading tweets was time that I could have been doing something productive, which annoyed me even more.

This was also the case with Facebook, where I scrolled down the list of friends posting about their lives or some random video that they wanted a reaction from. As for Instagram, that just made me feel like I was wasting my life or I was inferior. All these people posting selfies with their X-Pro and Mayfair filters and pouting like models when I don’t even know how to pout like that (and when I try I look like I’ve been punched in the gob), talking about how amazing their lives are. I know 98% of the time it is a picture that is not a genuine reflection of their life at the time, but sometimes it made me feel like crap and was not what I wanted to see when I was in a mood.

Before this sounds like an ‘I hate social media’ rant, let me say that there are positives to all these apps. I found some of the funniest things I have ever read or watched in my life on Twitter, tweets that made me howl with laughter while thinking ‘I’m going to hell’ at the same time. Not everybody is a troll- there are decent people behind some of the usernames, it’s just that so many of them get caught up in the madness. 

Facebook is a good way to keep in touch with people from your past, whether it be former classmates or colleagues. Also (like most social media) you control who sees your life- I have friends who have 400, 500, even a thousand ‘friends’. I’ve barely got eighty. A few years ago that actually bothered me for some stupid reason, then I quickly realised that I didn’t give a shit. At least the people who are on my timeline are people I don’t mind reading my business. 

Anyway, I was going to give up Twitter for Lent but decided to do it sooner rather than later. When you’re talking to your family or friends and only half-listening to what they’re saying because you’re reading some nonsense on social media, you need to make a change. Or you’re bored and end up absent-mindedly scrolling through a shedload of tweets before moving onto see who’s saying what on Facebook then rolling onto Instagram where everything makes you feel inferior. It was like some weird form of punishment/self-flagellation. I was addicted to it (especially Twitter) and found that social media became a habit that I could not kick. Well, not this time. It’s been seven hours and fifteen days (not really, more like twelve hours and six days) and it’s going well. The first couple of days were a bit odd- I found myself opening my phone looking for those apps and realising they were not there. But since then, it’s a case of so far, so good. 

Social media can be like a drug if you’re not careful. The need for validation from (mainly) strangers…the constant pressure to post the perfect selfie…or tweet something funny…or look like you’re doing something amazing for fear of looking like you live a boring life. Honestly, who gives a toss? It was addictive to me for various reasons and it became unhealthy for me. So I’m in self-imposed exile for a while, bar posting some of my articles on Facebook. Wish me luck. 

Sizing Up ‘Mermaid Thighs’.

A new trend has apparently swept social media and women are feeling happier and perkier because of it. It’s called ‘mermaid thighs’ and is (and I quote): ‘curvy thighs that meet like a mermaid’s tail.’ Sounds like everyday regular thighs to me but, to my surprise, I found over 6,000 posts on Instagram tagged with #mermaidthighs, all proclaiming body positivity.

I am 110% for body positivity and if you want to post a photo of your thighs for the world to see, then go for it. My issue with ‘mermaid thighs’ is that something that 98% of women have is being treated as a trend. It is not a trend. I’m always late when it comes to following trends anyway and having big thighs is not something I wanted to try for a while and then discard when something new comes along- I was born this way, so I work with it. 

Why are people marvelling in wonder at such a thing? ‘Oh my word- a pair of big thighs! On a woman! Wow!’ Seriously? It is a normal thing that a lot of women have, like cellulite or short eyelashes, so pardon me if I do not see why ‘mermaid thighs’ are considered revolutionary.

If we go back in time to the whole ‘thigh gap’ phase, as we all should know by now that was something promoted to make women feel inferior to models and celebrities who had these airbrushed into their pictures. Of course, there are naturally slim women who have naturally slender thighs and that’s lovely but this is not about them- this is about women like me who have thighs that could start a fire (possibly). Possessing a pair of ‘mermaid thighs’ sounds nice but is not something that I feel needs a funky name attached to it. Nor is it something to be ashamed of. To class it as a trend is problematic. We should not treat it as something that is in season one minute, but when summer comes around, suddenly it is ot of fashion. It is a vicious circle that messes with women’s heads as they feel like they are never enough. To put it bluntly, it’s bullshit. 

So as I say, if you want to post your big beautiful thighs (or other parts of your body) on social media, do it- but don’t be sucked into doing it as part of a ‘trend’. For many of us, it’s a fact of life so sod your trendy terminology. I’ve got chunky thighs and that’s that. 

Show Love.

Today is World Mental Health Day so I wrote this. 💛

Show love and be kind to yourself,

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else

It is futile and makes no sense

(I know this from personal experience).

Life is not supposed to be a race

We’re all slightly odd, there’s no disgrace

If you’re feeling down and lost and low

And you feel there’s nowhere you can go

Or no one to talk to, take a look around

There’s always an outlet to be found

That’s available, so try and take heed

Whenever you’re ready or feel the need

Sometimes in life, the shit hits the fan

And ruins all your best made plans

It might sound trite but be positive,

Because you’ve got so much to give. 

© G. Holder 2016.

Bake Off Blues.

So Bake Off goes on without Mary Berry

No Mel & Sue either- it’s all so very

Abrupt but it was inevitable,

But still, the outcome is incredible,

Paul is the only quarter of the pie

That’s staying in place but I’m not surprised,

He’s a bit of a (Bakewell) tart and I couldn’t see him leaving

But still next year’s series will have viewers disbelieving.

Some say they won’t watch when it moves to Channel 4

They’ll show no love and leave it forevermore

But I cannot lie- I’ll watch it to see

The new format, the new presenters- I’m interested to a degree

I’m hoping it doesn’t change too much

But with The Big Three departing, the viewers will clutch

Onto anything familiar that remains

But with commercial breaks included, it won’t be the same.

No more soggy bottoms, the innuendo depends

On the new presenters and how they blend

Into the show- I wonder who they’ll pick from the crop?

(Please God, don’t let it be Kirstie Allsopp).